02. Born Treacherous
04. Chess With The Abyss
05. Dimmu Borgir
07. The Demiurge Molecule
08. A Jewel Traced Through Coal
10. Endings And Continuations
[Nuclear Blast | 10/12/10]
Abrahadabra (loosely translated: “I will create as I speak”), was created by author Aleister Crowley in his work, The Book of the Law, it also serves as the title of the ninth studio album by Norwegian symphonic black metal band Dimmu Borgir. The album itself was in production for eleven months, due to the band taking time off from writing music while touring and parting ways with former members Vortex (bass/clean vocals) and Mustis (synth). They filled these gaps with Snowy Shaw for both bass and vocals and Darek Brzozowski (Vader) for drums. Abrahadabra also features additional vocals from Agnete Maria Forfang Kjølsrud and Kristoffer Rygg (Ulver), as well as incorporating both the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Schola Cantorum Choir to give the album it’s overall symphonic feel.
It seems many bands nowadays begin their album with an instrumental intro, which is fine with me, as long as it’s in good taste and not there just to be filler material. In the case of Abrahadabra, the opening track “Xibir” is there to set the album up and does it well by creating an atmosphere for the listener with a haunting choir over an arrangement of wood and brass instruments, which is all the more better when an actual choir and symphony are performing it. But Dimmu Borgir are no strangers to having actual orchestral arrangements, since their previous albums heavily focused on it, and the same can be said with Abrahadabra. The second track, “Born Treacherous” opens up with some rocking riffs, almost to the point to where it felt like I was listening to a new Satyricon song, but soon enough the trademark blasting rhythms and thick chords Dimmu is so fond of soon follows. For the most part, the song is of typical Dimmu fashion, reminiscent of something you would hear on Death Cult Armageddon.
“Gateways”, which in my opinion, would have been a better follow up to the opening track “Xibir”, slowly fades in with a haunting choir, which is soon joined by ferocious drumming and guitar work. In combination with symphonic elements and choir sections, this track also features female vocals provided by Agnete Kjølsrud, which have a creepy yet beautiful sound to them when they first come in. The ending of the song however, showcases Agnete’s vocals to give a very grandiose feel, as the song closes with deep chugging riffs. This is one of the more epic tracks on the album and my personal favorite.
Both “Chess With the Abyss” and “Dimmu Borgir” are heavily choir-driven, but they lack any real separation from each other or stand out from other tracks on the album. There are some highlights from Silenoz’s guitar work found throughout, but for the most part these two songs could have been combined into one long track. “Ritualist” takes a more aggressive approach and has an overall heavier sound than the rest of the tracks on the album, but that’s all it really has going for it. “The Demiurge Molecule” is one of the gems on the album, mainly because it’s varied in sound. It ranges from soaring choirs/chorus to chugging guitar riffs and mid-tempo breakdowns. It has enough variation to keep the listener tuned in. “A Jewel Traced Through Coal” follows in the same suit as most of the other songs, but the middle does feature a very operatic-like break, which could be enough to make it stand out amongst the other songs.
“Renewal” feels like something you would hear off of Spiritual Black Dimensions or Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. It’s easily the fastest of the bunch and just shreds from start to finish. As well as playing bass on the album, Snowy Shaw also provides clean vocals on this track, and it sounds pretty sick when both him and Shagrath are harmonizing together. The album comes to a fitting end with “Endings and Continuations”, complete with an eerie narrative from Shagrath set to a dark ambient tone. The track is chock full of over the top choir pieces and varying vocal arrangements between Shagrath’s snarls and guest vocalist Garm’s (Ulver) clean vocals. The guitar work of Silenoz and Galder follow alongside the symphonic elements with precise execution, never once falling behind. And to bring the track/album to a close, our ears are graced once again by Agnete’s soothing vocals as the song fades out.
Abrahadabra has it’s moments, but they are few and far between. The production is amazing and it shows how much time and work they put into the album, and the symphonic element alone is massive and has so much going on that it will require multiple listens to fully appreciate and take it all in. And while I appreciate bands that incorporate the use of choirs and orchestras in their sound, it sometimes becomes so overbearing that it takes away from the actual songwriting, and almost seems to be more of a crutch for the song. I would recommend this album to fans of Dimmu Borgir, but that’s about it. Like I said, it has it’s moments, but this just feels like a kid sister to Death Cult Armageddon, and even that album has a love/hate relationship with Dimmu fans…
Dimmu Borgir – Abrahadabra gets…